History of Hornsby NSW

Hornsby NSW is known today as a charming suburb just 25 km. from Sydney. However, it’s also full of landmarks and heritage sites that have played a role in its history. Read on to find out more about Hornsby history and how this suburb became what it is today.

European Settlement in Hornsby NSW 2077

Image credit: Hornsby Shire Council

European Settlement In Hornsby

The history of Hornsby NSW can be dated all the way back to the 1830s when Thomas Edward Higgins, one of the first known settlers, started selling timber from Old Mans Valley. As more people settled nearby, a community began to form. The settlement was eventually named after police constable Samuel Horne, who received a land grant in modern-day Hornsby after helping to capture a wanted bushranger.

In 1893, a railway junction was built on this land to stimulate trade, and it was named Hornsby Junction. This caused a great deal of confusion because there was another village named Hornsby to the south. That confusion led to many commuters getting off at the wrong train station and missing a connecting train which would have been at the station one stop later

After some deliberation, the southern settlement was renamed Normanhurst in order to simplify things. The nearby settlers named it this to honour the local activist and engineer Norman Selfe. With two independent names and less confusion, both settlements were free to thrive.

In the end, the northern railway station eventually took on the name Hornsby as we know it today. Thanks to the Hornsby Railroad Station, the value of nearby properties began to rise and more and more people began to settle around there. As this trend increased, the small village grew steadily over the years until it became a fully-fledged town.

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Hornsby Residential Growth

Hornsby local history tells us that residential growth in Hornsby NSW was left to private developers. After getting land to the east and west of Hornsby Station, they planned to sell to people who wanted to live near the station with beautiful views of the surrounding area. People began purchasing land on which to build housing, and the residential growth of Hornsby NSW began.

The Roberts family, comprised of Oscar Garibaldi Roberts and his wife Annie Roberts, ended up purchasing twelve blocks of land. These were further divided into twenty-three blocks and offered for sale as the Roberts Mount Errington Sub-division. This area became known for its esteem and Federation-style housing. Thus, wealthy families quickly sought to become residents there.

Many houses in the Roberts Mount Errington subdivision hold great historical significance and live on as heritage sights today. Mount Errington, a mansion built in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, is one such example.

Following the gradual growth and prosperity in Hornsby, the Hornsby Shire Council was established several decades later in 1906. Incidentally, Oscar Garibaldi Roberts was the very first Shire Mayor, and the very first meeting was held on 14 June 1906. Since 2004, the mayor has been annually elected by popular vote rather than being elected by the councillors.

A large shopping mall, Westfield Hornsby, was built in 1961. As such, it was one of the first Sydney suburbs with a modern shopping centre. This mall is also home to the treasured Hornsby Water Clock.

In terms of population growth over the years, sources indicate that Hornsby NSW has grown from having a population of 30,500 in 1945 to a whopping 142,667 as of the most recent 2016 census. At the time of the last census, data shows that approximately 40,000 families live there.

For more historical information about Hornsby NSW, be sure to check out the Hornsby Shire Council’s website.

Hornsby Residential Growth